Press Release
September 10, 2019

Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe's Opening Statement
Senate Public Services Committee Hearing
Sept. 10, 2019

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. The hearing of the Committee on Public Services is hereby resumed.

23.8 kilometers. Five lanes on each side, each with an average width of 3.5 meters, and a capacity of around 280,000 vehicles per day. Ito ang sukat ng EDSA-ang interseksyon ng Mega Manila at ng 25 milyong residente nito.

Paano nga ba natin hahatiin ang EDSA para sa mga motorista at komyuter? Slice a bigger piece of motorists, and you leave thousands of commuters stranded. Carve a bigger chunk for commuters, and you leave hundreds of motorists stuck in traffic.

I can feel your frustration. Everyone works here; everyday, everyone is victimized by traffic. Parang kahit anong solusyon ang piliin, puro batikos ang tinatanggap ng namumuno.

Such was the case with the divisive provincial bus ban, which will be the first part of this hearing. To recap, the policy was composed of two parts: City buses were compelled to stay within the yellow line, while provincial buses were exiled to Laguna, Valenzuela, and PITx. The Taguig ITx will be the next piece of this puzzle.

The result was absurd: Private motorists had three EDSA lanes all to themselves but only if they could pass by the spillovers of the yellow lane chokepoints. And perhaps it could've been a success for the MMDA, who could've claimed that they achieved the 2.44 minute per kilometer reduction in travel time stipulated in their 2019 budget.

But it was certainly not a happy conclusion for commuters who watched the cars pass by while their bus crawled. Pinakamalungkot ang mga probinsyano na apektado dito. Sabi mismo sa datos ng MMDA na ibinigay nila 'nung nakaraang hearing, halos 400,000 ang pasahero papunta at paluwas ng probinsya araw-araw. Kung ilalagay natin ang mga terminal sa labas ng Maynila, tiyak na sila ang magdadala ng dagdag-pasakit na ito.

Kung hindi naman provincial bus ban ang sagot, ano nga ba? Naglabasan ang mga proposals nitong mga nagdaan na linggo. Do we need to add more point-to-point premium buses? Mas mainam ba ang one-way scheme? O 'di kaya ay car-brand coding scheme? Do we need emergency powers to get things moving?

We will pick up where we left off in the previous hearing. Nasaan na ang masterplan para sa trapiko, hindi lang sa EDSA o sa Mega Manila, kundi sa buong Pilipinas? All of the veins and arteries of Mega Manila and other highly urbanized cities are already clogged with congestion. Where is the great "Philippine Transport System Masterplan" for which we have already shelled out PhP110 million in taxes for consulting services?

And since MMDA asked for "research-based" proposals to solve traffic, we have assembled for this hearing a brain trust of engineers, architects, planners, and commuters for you to consult. For all participants, just remember that this is an open discussion, not a public execution.

The latter part of this hearing deals with the legislative component of this "inquiry in aid of legislation." Specifically, it concerns the revival of the so-called Emergency Powers bill.

Without preempting further discussions on this bill, I will set the some preconditions for the bill's consideration. These may sound familiar:

One, it must be tied to a traffic action plan with targets and deadlines. No accountability, no deal. Siyempre kapag mayroon tayong kapangyarihan, mas malaki ang responsibilidad. Hindi puwedeng puro powers lang pero walang plano.

Second, it must be fiscally responsible. This bill is not a credit card for DOTr's Christmas wish list. It is closer in nature to a Public Works Acts which contains a detailed list of projects and sources of appropriations. Hindi tayo dapat mabaon sa utang na hanggang sa ating mga kaapu-apuhan ay ating babayaran.

Finally, there must be an FOI seal of approval. Kailangan bukas sa lahat ng gustong magtanong ang libro ng mga proyekto.

These conditions are not unreasonable. We have to make sure that any grant of emergency powers is placed in responsible hands. Even better if our existing laws can be harmonized with creative transport plans without need for new powers.

No less than the Constitution assures us of an "improved quality of life for all." This is not just poetry. Simply put: We all deserve better. We are here today to claim that better life for all. Ngayong araw, subukan nating hanapin ang mas maginhawang buhay para sa lahat.

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